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Regional energy trade goes cyberspace

Staff Writer
The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) has launched an internet-based cross-border power trading system, enabling member states to buy, sell and bid for electricity among themselves on a real time basis.

Prior to the web-based system's launch, power trade within SAPP was done through bilateral agreements, such as the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has with several utilities including Eskom, SNEL, HCB and ZESA.

With the new system in place, utilities will be able to trade electricity as is done on other commodity exchanges.
On Wednesday, SAPP's Coordination Centre Manager, Lawrence Musaba told Mmegi that the new system was up and running, free of technical glitches and improving the ease of trade for SAPP member states."The system was developed in 2007 with testing done during 2008. We commissioned it in December and it is running perfectly.

"Members are now able to send in their bids via the internet and matching can be done, all on line. Trade in electricity has been made much easier," he said.

The new system mimics the highly successful Nord Pool ASA, a power trading exchange for the Nordic region of Europe. The system allows

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buyers and sellers to input their requirements for trade into the pool a day ahead and trade or bid for excess capacity on a real time basis.

Through the system, the BPC can purchase power from other members without the need for prior bilateral agreements. Thus, the local utility will, technically, be able to plug supply gaps during peak periods, by bidding for excess capacity available among members in real time.

The new system is also expected to aid price realisation, enabling private investors such as CIC Energy to gauge prevailing trends in the price of electricity. In the Nord Pool ASA, a reference price is calculated, within a regulatory framework, and set by Nord Pool each day.

SAPP, which is composed of 12 member states some with more than one utility company, was created with the primary aim of providing reliable and economical electricity supply to the consumers of each of the SAPP members.



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